Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Marsbound - Joe Haldeman


Marsbound
Joe Haldeman
Ace

Science Fiction

At the age of 18, Carmen Dula and her family will be making the longest trip possible. They’re going to the colony on Mars. Carmen’s parents qualified due to their scientific specialties, while Carmen and her younger brother, Card, spent a year in training. The trip out will take six months, and they’ll spend five years on (or under) the planet. There are a few other young people on the ship out, and they’re all kept busy with required exercise periods to keep their muscles and bones strong in zero gee, and with their individual school or college work.

Arriving at the colony on Mars is a little intimidating. It seems huge after six months on a ship, but it’s still close quarters and on Mars, as anywhere else, there are personality clashes. In what she later admits was a bad move, Carmen decides to take an unescorted walk on the surface, just for some alone time. She falls, her suit malfunctions, and she would have frozen to death without help from another species of intelligent life on the planet.

The fact that there are “Martians” on the planet, also living under the surface, causes a firestorm of controversy both on Mars and Earth. The two groups are able to communicate, and most colonists look on these beings as new friends. There are those, however, who feel that there may be a hidden agenda. They’re not wrong, but it will take years for the first event to occur.

The story is told by Carmen, in first person, and begins on the day her family leaves Florida to begin the long journey to Mars. This method gives every scene and emotion a real immediacy. The technology presented here is obviously futuristic, but still recognizable as outgrowths of what we have today. Technology aside, this is very much a character-driven story. It’s the story of two cultures meeting; and how individuals in those cultures react. In the end, it’s a very human story, perfect for scifi fans and newbies alike.

Rating: 8
August 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01595-5 (hardcover)

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